Organisations around the world suddenly shuttered offices and sent employees home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, no one knew what that would mean for the future of remote work.
Now, remote work trends are clearer. Many organisations are adopting hybrid work, which blends in-office and remote work. Employees appreciate the balance and flexibility afforded by remote work[i] and 83% of employers surveyed by PwC in late 2020 said the shift to remote work had been successful for their companies.[ii] It’s no wonder industry analysts believe remote working will remain a key component of many organisations’ operations.
Post-pandemic, more than half of employees are expected to work remotely at least part of the time.
Remote work trends challenge IT teams
The sudden and significant shift to remote work creates IT network architecture and support challenges. These five remote work trends explain why IT teams are now reconsidering the way they think about work-from-home solutions as part of a hybrid work environment.
Permanent adoption of remote work. Analysts estimate that more than 50% of workers will be remote at least part of the time post-pandemic.[iii] This means enterprise networking teams must now manage and support hundreds—if not thousands—of new, geographically dispersed, non-IT staffed home office locations for the long term.
Reliance on demanding applications for business productivity. Video conferencing became commonplace during the pandemic, and 64% of business users will continue to use video post-pandemic.[iv] IT’s imperative is no longer to simply provide workers with secure remote access via the home network; they must also deliver a seamless user experience for these and other low-latency, high-bandwidth applications.
Persistent IT issues in the home office. Research shows that 70% of businesses with a distributed workforce have remote users that experience IT issues multiple times a week.[v] IT issues in the home office can be hard to resolve because IT teams often have no visibility beyond their own environment. It is difficult to triage whether the issue is occurring due to the ISP or whether it is within the data centre because IT lacks visibility into session data.
New scenarios for remote work. Organisations looking to increase the benefits of remote work are now expanding the practice to traditionally collocated employees, such as contact centre agents. Digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic also unlocked new use cases across industries. (In healthcare, for example, telehealth visits are becoming standard, as is the use of temporary locations such as mobile clinics and health screening kiosks.) These new use cases create new demands on IT for remote network security, reliability, and performance.
Security threats originating from the home office. Cyberthreats are increasing at an alarming rate. Ransomware attacks, for example, hit record highs in the past year.[vi] Networking and security teams must now grapple with how to extend their on-campus Zero Trust and secure access service edge (SASE) frameworks to hundreds or even thousands of remote locations at the edge.
The need for modern work from home solutions
Remote work is here to stay. The ad-hoc work from home solutions that tenuously supported the hasty shift to remote work at the onset of the pandemic have already started to show signs of strain as IT teams manage hybrid workplaces and users’ demands for parity of experience as they move between home and office.
For IT teams considering how to normalise their network architectures for permanent remote work, here are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to evaluating work from home solutions:
Can the solution scale to meet your business needs—even as they change? The ideal solution can accommodate the changing dynamics of your business, and give you the flexibility to extend secure, reliable, high-performance networking at home to every employee that needs it—not just the C-suite.
Can IT troubleshoot issues and provide the same user experience for remote workers? Enabling secure remote access via the home network is not just about a seamless user experience; it’s also about giving IT teams supporting remote networks the same deep visibility, comprehensive security tools, and ease of management they experience with on-campus networks.
What will IT need to manage at the remote location? The benefits of a work from home solution can quickly be outweighed by mounting hardware costs, required software agent installation, or the need to manage multiple pieces of networking hardware within the remote location.
Meet EdgeConnect Microbranch, the newest Aruba work-from-home solution
Building on a strong foundation of Aruba work-from-home solutions like remote access points (RAPs), EdgeConnect Microbranch provides organisations with a modern, massively scalable way to power remote work in home and small offices, as well as temporary locations. EdgeConnect Microbranch extends SD-WAN services and the SASE framework to the edge, via cloud-native Aruba Central for management and any Aruba Wi-Fi access point—no gateway, agent or appliance required at the remote site.
As part of AI-powered Aruba ESP, EdgeConnect Microbranch builds on existing cloud-managed Wi-Fi capabilities like zero touch provisioning and role-based access control with services such as intelligent policy-based routing, dynamic tunnel and route orchestration, enhanced WAN troubleshooting tools, and SASE integration.
These new capabilities give IT teams greater control and visibility into the remote network, without the additional overhead of on-premises hardware or appliances. Now IT can optimise the remote network to ensure that remote employees experience the same quality of service and access to resources as they do on campus—while protecting against security threats without disrupting remote worker productivity.
[iii] IDC. Branch of One: Evolution of the Enterprise Network Edge for Remote Workers. March 2021.
[v] IDC. Future of Enterprise Networking: Emergence of the New Normal. February 2021.